The Mommyhood Life

Holidays

4 Must Have Items for a Fun and Sparkling Holiday Girls Night ~ Plus a Dirty Shirley Cocktail Recipe! #SparklingHolidays

You must be 21 to consume alcoholic beverages. When doing so, please drink responsibly. No drinking and driving, and no drinking and texting! 
Every year around the holidays, my closest friends and myself all get together for a fun girls night in.  It’s a nice relaxing night in the middle of a very stressful time of year when us girls take a night to simply focus on ourselves and having fun with each other.  We have a simple grab gift, some yummy appetizers and sweets, along with a signature cocktail.

We take this time to unwind, laugh, and act silly while the forgetting about our endless shopping lists, decorating, and all our other holiday errands for the night.
Must Have Items for a Fun and Sparkling Holiday Girls Night:
1.  Yummy Appetizers, We are all escaping our mommy and wifely duties to unwind.  Having something delicious to refuel us is a must.
2.  Small Grab Gift, Nothing that is going to add extra stress to the group, just something small to get everyone giggly and having fun.  One year we did a silly socks theme, another was strange ornament themed.
3.  Games,  We want to unwind and what better way to unwind than with all your friends playing a round of twister or Jenga kid free!
4.  A Signature Cocktail,  No one has time to fully stock the bar and having one festive drink keeps things simple.
This year I was in charge of the signature cocktail and I chose to make an simple yet pretty Dirty Shirley cocktail, featuring DASANI Sparkling Water in Berry flavor.  This was a great refreshing and yummy cocktail that we all enjoyed.  All the girls were excited about using DASANI Sparkling water as our drink mixer, the holidays are overly indulgent as it is, finding a cocktail mixer that has Zero calories, is unsweetened, has zero artificial colors, and to top it off is caffeine-free is a great way to prepare a cocktail for girls night.
Dirty Shirley Cocktail Recipe:

Cocktail Ingredients
2 cups of DASANI Sparkling Water in Berry Flavor
1/4 cup of Strawberry flavored Vodka
Splash Grenatine
Garnish
Cherries
Sugar Crystals
If you would like to rim the glasses, add the colorful sugar crystals to the glasses.  Next fill a glass with ice, add DASANI Flavored Water, Strawberry Vodka, and grenadine.  Then stir and add cherries.
That’s all, no in-depth prep work.  Simple and quick so everyone can make their own cocktails all night.
Ready to make some yummy Dirty Shirleys this holiday season?  Head over to Walmart  and pick up a 12 pack of the 12 ounce cans of DASANI Sparkling Water!
Sparkling flavors available are Lime, Berry, Lemon, and Black Cherry.

The Christmas Pickle Tradition!

We have started a new Christmas tradition.  The Christmas Pickle Tradition!  I am so excited about this, I am always looking for fun ways to make more memories during the holidays with kids and The Pickle Tradition does just that.
I had heard my family joke with my father about hiding a pickle at Christmas over the years , because he is German and I guess they had heard about a German version of this tradition.  However we never took part in it and I never understood how anyone would hide a pickle.  For some reason I was imagining an actual pickle and couldn’t comprehend making my house smell like dill pickles for Christmas day.  
Well the jokes on me, The Christmas Pickle Tradition set showed up on my doorstep and I am in love with this adorable tradition and so excited to be starting it with my children.  They are excited about the potential to win an extra gift.
Here is how The Christmas Pickle Tradition works:
Enclosed in the kit is;
Pickle Ornament
A Note from Santa Claus
Annual Pickle Finder Tracker
The Pickle Tradition Book
A Note From Santa,
Leave me the Pickle.  To hang on your tree. By the milk and cookies. Is where it should be. When the morning time comes. No sneaking, be smart! You must wait for your family. For the search to start. On the count of three. Little feet start to run.  The search for the pickle.  Has finally begun! The lucky child. Who spots it on the tree.  Will receive the first present. A gift just from me.
The book tells the story of one of Santa’s mischievous elves, Pickle, and how he learns about the magic of giving over the Christmas season.
The Christmas Pickle Tradition retails for $29.99 and is available at ChristmasPickleTradition.com 
This is such a fun set and the kids cant get enough of the book and hearing Pickle the elf’s story.  This will be our first year hiding the pickle and we cant wait to start this great tradition that will surely last for generations!

We Can All Make a Difference for the Greater Good! #WishesDelivered

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of UPS. All opinions are 100% mine.

Earlier this week I shared an amazing campaign that UPS has created, #WishesDelivered.  This initiative is making wishes a reality for people in need during the holiday season.
People like Mr. Brown, who has been working to help people around the world his entire adult life.  From putting books in the hands of children in Africa, to the White House, he works for the greater good of the world, and UPS delivered his wish!
Also meet the ladies of Handmade Especially For You, these women knit scarves and donate them to battered women.  Bringing comfort, peace, and new beginnings to victims of domestic violence.  UPS delivered their wish too!
How can we help?
Share a Wish Story!  Think about a person in your community that is making wishes come true and making the world a better place.  Then visit the UPS #WishesDelivered and tell UPS about how this person is making a difference.
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Share a Wish For Good!  Post your own wish for the greater good on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #WishesDelivered #WishesDelivered Site between November 10th and January 1, 2016.
For each wish story shared with the hashtag #WishesDelivered, UPS will donate $1 to one of their charity partners! They are donating up to $150,000, that is a lot of wishes granted!
A Wish Story from My Community:
Earlier this week I also shared with you my wish for the greater good, I wish everyone would have a bed to sleep in this winter, food in their stomachs and a roof over their head.  No family should have to wonder where their next meal will come from or where they will sleep each night, especially during the holiday season.
Today I’d like to share with you a Wish Story about a man in my community who makes a difference not only in our town or state but nation wide, every single day!  
Billy ‘Inkslinger’ Pfaff founded Heroin is Killing My Town, and 
through this initiative Billy has become a miracle to countless individuals.
  He goes out into the areas unseen by most and makes a difference.  You can follow his mission on the “Heroin is Killing My Town” Facebook page, and watch as he goes into wooded areas where he knows the homeless are living in tents and brings sleeping bags and food.  He goes under bridges that are littered with needles and offers help with an open heart.  He finds beds for people who need rehab and gets total strangers they help they need.  He saves lives everyday with a passion unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
 These people are making incredible steps to change the world for the greater good, now lets help!  Join me and lets get our stories and wishes shared, What’s your wish?

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Nana’s Almond Squares Recipe and My Big Lots Haul! #BIGSeason

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #BIGSeason #BigLots #CollectiveBias
My fondest memories growing up are the ones of me learning to bake in my Nana’s kitchen.  She taught me to make Italian cookies, peanut butter balls, almond squares and so much more.  Leaning to use an electric mixer, grease the pans, and of course do the dishes.  She taught me life lessons of domestication in such a way that it made me fall in love with the art of baking.  That was just the way she was though, in all aspects of life.  She was my Nana, my mentor, and my best friend.

So when I got married she gave me one of the best gifts I could have ever asked for, her cookbook!  Called The Joy Cooking, this cookbook is stained, the pages are yellowed from age, and the binding is held together with duct tape, however this is my most coveted cookbook because each stain brings a memory of my Nana back to me and the duct tape well that’s just an extra signature that it was hers. It a prized possession that never leaves my kitchen, family members have asked to borrow it and I can’t stand to part with it so the only thing I can commit to is photo copying the recipes needed.
However with the cookbook, also comes the responsibility of doing a lot of the family baking.  There are two main desserts that she always brought to holiday parties, her Italian cookies and her almond bars.  My uncle will usually take on the Italian cookies, thankfully because my kids eat up the dough so fast that I never get any cookies actually cooked.  I am in charge of the almond bars, and they have always been a favorite of both my brother and I.
As soon as Thanksgiving is over I immediately start to think about my holiday meal planing and all that comes with it, from the almond squares that need to go to parties, to decorating cookies with the kids, and Christmas dinner.  Once my food list is sketched out, my first stop is Big Lots.  I remember several years ago, a Big Lots opened in our town and I was ecstatic.  
I’m a shopper, I love to spend time putting around stores that have a wide array of products.  Big Lots not only has so many things to look at, they also are always getting new and fun merchandise.  I can find a unique gift for a friend, a beautiful serving dish, and my baking ingredients all in one place.  
Last week I grabbed a coffee and set out on a Big Lot’s shopping trip,  I was able to pick up a couple Purex pans with covers that will work out perfectly for transporting all my baked good to parties.  I also found an adorable “I love baking” spatula, 2 Christmas hand towels, a holiday sign that I fell in love with, a snowman plate, and pretty Christmas mason jar mug.
*Disclosure: styles and assortment vary by store*
All this was before I even stepped into the huge grocery section throughout the middle of the store!  I was able to find everything I needed to make the Almond Squares for this weekend.  Sugar, Vanilla, Shredded Coconut, everything I had on my shopping list and everything was within my budget!  This is why my Big Lots is my first stop when planning for the holidays, I am able to get so many high quality ingredients and they’re all at a great price.
Once I got home on a shopping high from the great values I found, it was baking time!  The only thing that trumped my fun shopping finds that day, was pouring the almond extract into a bowl and making my entire kitchen smell like Nana.  
These are a delicious dessert idea, I’m sharing the recipe in the midst of the holiday baking rush.  So make sure you give these a try!
Nana’s Almond Squares


Ingredients:
3/4 cups butter
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 eggs
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 1/2 cups flour
Shredded Coconut to top


Preheat oven at 350 degrees

Melt butter, then mix together the butter and sugar.
Add eggs and mix for several minutes, until creamy. 

Add salt, vanilla, almond extract, and flour, and mix until well combined.

Pour into a greased pan, sprinkle top with shredded coconut, and cook for 40 minutes. 

Be sure to check out the large variety of baking and meal preparation items at Big Lots.  I’d love to hear what you love to make during the holidays!

   

Delivering Wishes This Holiday Season! #WishesDelivered

This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of UPS. All opinions are 100% mine.
The holiday season is the season of wishes.  From children’s holiday wish lists to homeless people wishing for a better new year.  The holiday season seems to make us all wish a little more and give a little more.
The holiday season also means the great UPS workers are extra busy.  My UPS guy delivers packages to me at least a few times a week and he is awesome!  He waves me out when he thinks its a box for the kids so they wont see it, he puts packages in my kitchen doorway when the weathers bad, and its always a wish come true to have a quick adult conversation when I’ve been trapped in the house listening preschoolers fight all day.
Join Season UPS this season on the #WishesDelivered Campaign
Every package that ends up on a doorstep started from a wish,  whether its a holiday gift wish or the wish that you don’t have to drag kids out to the store for diapers.  The men and women at UPS work day and night to deliver our packages during the holiday season and throughout the entire year.  This holiday season, UPS wants to recognize the people and organizations that are out in the community delivering wishes in their own special way.
We Can All Help!
Share a Wish Story!  Think about a person in your community that is making wishes come true and making the world a better place.  Then visit the UPS #WishesDelivered and tell UPS about how this person is making a difference.
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Share a Wish For Good!  Post your own wish for the greater good on Instagram or Twitter using the hashtag #WishesDelivered #WishesDelivered Site between November 10th and January 1, 2016.  
My Wish
I wish everyone would have a bed to sleep in this winter, food in their stomachs and a roof over their head.  Everyday as I drive through my city it feels like there is more homeless people than ever before.  They’re hungry, tired, and cold.  It just feels so wrong, especially during the holiday season.
Sharing for Charity
 For each wish story shared with the hashtag #WishesDelivered, UPS will donate $1 to one of their charity partners! They are donating up to $150,000, that is a lot of wishes granted!
Charity Partners
Boys & Girls Club of America
 World Food Programme
Toys for Tots Literacy Program
 The Salvation Army
The UN Refugee Agency
So join me and lets get those stories and wishes shared, What’s your wish?

Visit Sponsors Site

A Day In The Shoes of a Busy Mom ~ Holiday Edition! Plus Fun Mommy and Me Styles!

The holiday season is upon us, Christmas is in 10 days! Can you believe it?  I can’t, I feel like it’s still fall, which means I am stressed, busy and stressed.
Like most women, I like shoes, I love shoes, they take my stress away!  So let’s talk shoes.

These December days I am running from stores to the gym, then to appointments, school events, family parties, and local traditions.  Then there is all the little things that make the holiday special like holiday movies with the kids, baking, and building gingerbread houses.  Add to that my everyday chores, this being the busiest time for blogging, and that stupid elf that I keep forgetting to move, let’s just say I’m not getting much sleep.  I bet most work at home mommy’s aren’t this month.  
However I have come-up with a wardrobe kit that has taken the stress out of getting ready for all this holiday fun, and of course each outfit is centered around shoes!
I am trying to consolidate my daily errands into one trip during this month.  That means if I’m going holiday shopping or to a doctors appointment, I am also going to the gym.  This means I have been breaking in my awesome new Flex Experience RN 4 Running Nike Sneakers.  I pair them with my yoga pants and workout top and I am off.  I am often speed walking through stores anyways so why not be comfortable in my gym clothes.  Plus it is so much nicer to get home without achy feet!
For all the school functions and blogger luncheons, yoga pants are not very appropriate so my favorite pair of jeans and a comfortable sweater or blouse match perfectly with these XOXO black Mace booties!  They are remarkable comfortable for heels and they pull every outfit together, making even my worn in jeans look vamped up.
I’m a work at home mom and my husband is self employed, so we don’t have any fancy parties to attend.  However we do have lots of family parties and outings all month long and two things are important for these.  One, an ugly sweater.  They are everywhere this year, and every party I’ve been invited to has had the word “Ugly Sweater” attached. Two, it’s chilly outside in New England.  Walking around looking at Christmas lights is not fun if your toes are frozen numb.  This is why Lilly and I are in love with our matching BearPaw Emma Short Black Winter Boots!  They are comfy, keep my feet toasty warm, and their cute.  Even better Famous Footwear has them for both women and kids, so we get to do the whole ‘Mommy and Me” thing with our matching sweaters of course!
Once all these outings, errands, and parties are over I get to do what I love most about the holidays.  Get in our Pj’s, turn lights on the tree, grab some hot chocolate, turn on the Christmas movies, and cuddle up with my babies.  However Famous Footwear has added an amazing cuteness factor to even that!  Coordinating Minnetonka Britt Trapper slippers for women and kids.
This holidays season will pass very fast, like past years.  The stress is there, but I’m just trying to steal a little peace to savor the Christmas memories while my children are still young.  Even if the big smiles are being delivered from shoes.  I love getting inspiration from #ohsofamous and having fun exploring what others are wearing, Check it out  and see the variety that Famous Footwear offers.

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

What’s In My JUSTICE Shopping Bag, The Perfect Place for Tween Holiday Shopping!

If you have a tween daughter, you’ve likely heard all about the ultimate girl’s store, Justice!  I remember hearing all about this bright sparkly store “that is just for girls” years ago, when all my younger cousins fell in love with it.  Then as Lilly got older, I remember being excited myself when she finally fit into Justice clothes.

Justice is filled with everything a Tween would love this Christmas. From fun hooded footie pajamas with coordinating accessories to Selfie booths, this store has all sorts of cool things.
Some of my favorite tween gift ideas at JUSTICE right now are the bathrubes with coordinating bath and beauty kits.  They have everything your tween would want on their vanity and you can get everything to match, soaps, nail supplies, makeup sets, slippers, flat irons, hair dryers and more.  Also the selfie line of products are very cool!  They have selfie sticks, booths, photo paper, stickers and more.  If your tweens are all about taking photos right now, then get to Justice before Christmas.
They also had countless stocking stuffer ideas.  Nail polishes that glow in the dark, jewelry, hair accessories, and the coolest accessory I saw had to be funky pedometer bracelets.
Plus if your tween loves the holiday season and really wants to show their holiday spirit, Justice has you covered.  Check out the festive hair chalk and the pretty press on nails!
So as you can see, I could easily buy the whole store between all the tweens in my life and the awesomeness in this store.  However I had to control myself, but I still walked out with a gigantic bag.  Here is what’s in my Justice Bag!
The first thing I saw when I walked in the store were these pj’s and matching pillows.  They are so cute and I know all the girls on my list will love them, I wish they had them in my size.  I grabbed a set immediately and had them held at the register.  The sales associates are always walking around and asked if I needed anything and would spot when my hands were full and always offered to help.  It’s easy to shop when everyone is so friendly!
I also grabbed some clothes, because Justice has the best styles for my over the top daughter who loves everything bright, sparkly, and is obsessed with fashion.
Then I picked up a notebook and colorful pen for a tween that loves to draw and write.  Justice had so many to choose from, it was a hard decision.  They had light up books, locking books, furry books, I really mean they had tons!  However I liked the spiral top on this one and the blank pages.
Lastly I picked up a few stocking stuffers and gift basket fillers.  I grabbed a shimmer powder set, color changing lip balm, 3 florescent nail polishes, a hand sanitizer and holder, and a cute monkey phone holder.
Are you heading out shopping for a tween this holiday season?  Justice is the go to destination when shopping for a stylish tween girls gift and they offer everyday low prices.  Plus this holiday season they have some awesome promotions going on that make shopping at Justice even more fun;

Enter the Justice Wishes Sweepstakes to win amazing Justice prizes for your tween like the Ultimate Justice VIP Experience with an iPad and shopping spree!
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Snap a photo of your tween’s holiday wish to enter into the Justice Wishes Sweepstakes between 12/1 and 12/24 to win weekly amazing prizes like $250 Justice gift cards or a shopping spree!
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Starting on 11/26 Justice shoppers will receive a Style Perk with every purchase. The style perk offers $15 off of a $40 or more purchase redeemable through the new year! Learn more about Style Perks here!

I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.

This is #HowWeFamily, How Does Your Family Do The Holidays?

I have received information from the makers of TYLENOL®. The opinions stated are my own. This is a sponsored post.
The holidays are here!  If you need a little help getting in the holiday spirit, just watch this adorable #HowWeFamily video from TYLENOL®.  It melted my heart instantly.
How do you family over the holidays?  We have a lot of traditions over the holidays that brings us together as family.  We spend time with extended family every year, having annual Christmas parties at my parents or uncle’s house.  Then on Christmas Eve we visit my aunts house and my in-laws have a huge party, our Christmas is always better when surrounded by cousins, aunts, uncles, and loved ones.  We also visit Santa, try to see as many Christmas lights as possible, and bake till the kids tummies are full.  That’s #HowWeFamily, surrounded by love.

This holiday season, TYLENOL® is celebrating families and how they come together over this special time of the year. 
The video is a compilation of real moments from 11 real American families that showcases joy, laughter, surprise, and unconditional love. 

 Including one from spokesperson Gabrielle Union, Head over to http://www.HowWeFamily.com and learn more about the #HowWeFamily program which believes that family is not about who you love but how.

Tips for Taking the Stink out of Hosting this Holiday Season ~ Plus a Febreze Kit Giveaway!

This review was made possible by iConnect and Febreze. I was provided compensation to facilitate this post, but all opinions are 100% mine.
The holiday season is the most magical time of year for my family and I.  I love everything about it, trimming the tree, visiting Santa, baking Christmas goodies, visiting traditional events, and of course the parties.  Everyone is always in such a festive mood and it is the time of year when family and friends all take a break from the normal hustle and bustle of life and get together to celebrate.

I host both Thanksgiving and Christmas day dinner at my house, so I know both sides of the holiday party.  The happy, exciting, reminicing with loved ones side.  Then also the hosting side, while I love to cook, decorate, and put on a presentation while hosting, there are also some downfalls that can really stink!  Can you relate?  If so, I have some solutions to share with you from Febreze!

First keep some Febreze Air Effects on hand, with the the festive holiday line you’ll be able to knock out oders while staying in the holiday spirit!

If your making a caserole that doesn’t smell as great cooking as it tastes, or accidently burn something, Air Effects will keep the stink away.
Plus your dishes will likely pile up before your guests leave, spray away any yucky left over smells so that you can continue enjoying your guests without worrying about the stench coming from the sink.
The holidays also means pulling out decorations that have probably been packed away in a box all year.  When I pull out our tree skirt, stockings, and pillows they smell musty.  Febreze Fabric Refresher spray leaves everything smelling delicious in seconds!  I also use it to spray down the couches and of course those sweaters that are all the rage now.  You can only imagine what a Christmas sweater smells like after being in a box from the 80’s, but honestly my Febreze left it smelling like a cranberry drink!
For the bathroom, make sure you light a Febreze candle, it will eliminate the odors that will undoubtably happen as guests rotate through while keeping your home feeling cozy.
Also if you have a particularly stinky area, aka pet bed, liter box, or like me a boys room, use the Febreze Noticeables.  These easy odor eliminators plug in and then you don’t have to worry about them again for up to 45 days.  These are perfect for keeping odors away during the busy holiday season!
There you have it, Febreze can keep all the stinks away this holiday season.  So once you have your Febreze products on hand, grab a cocktail and enjoy all the festivities!
Now for the fun part, lets get to the Giveaway!
Enter to win a Febreze Kit
Which contains Febreze product, mittens, pug coasters, Moscow Mule mugs, and a serving basket. 

Ends: December 12th, 2015

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